The Stand, Edinburgh
Andrew Doyle, co-writer of the wonderfully acerbic Jonathan Pie, promises to be controversial. His opinions are, he says, unpopular. He is, in his own words, ‘political and a massive gay.’ But honestly, tonight, it all feels a bit tame.
There’s a lot of audience work at the top of the show, which he handles nicely – he has a clear command of the room. It’s filler though; I want to get down to some substance. The stuff about being gay is not very challenging – a few easy gags about how he’s against gay marriage because, y’know, marriage is a trap. He’s better when he gets to the politics, especially Brexit. I don’t agree with him, but he’s informed and articulate and makes his case well. And he’s absolutely right that there needs to be space for debate; no one wins when we shut each other down.
A shame then that he seeks to shut others down, with a straw man argument against identity politics, citing ‘Otherkins’ as an example of their absurdity. But it’s his argument that’s absurd: no one in this clearly politically-engaged room knows what an Otherkin is; he has to tell us (someone who doesn’t identify as human, apparently), so they’re hardly mainstream; it’s kind of cheap to use them as a means of discrediting other identities in the LGBTQ+ ‘community’, especially at a time when transgender people in particular are facing so much prejudice.
He’s drinking wine on-stage – about two thirds of a bottle of red during the hour – and things do get more interesting as he gets looser. It makes him seem vulnerable; by the end, when he’s talking about losing friends because of what he thinks, he appears to be really hurt. Or maybe that’s all part of the schtick.
Doyle is a fascinating person, and I’ll definitely watch out for him and see what else he does. He’s clever and engaging, and has the crowd laughing throughout. This show could do with a bit more focus though – and less reliance on the easy stuff.